FOOTBALL: Spalding United season review and video highlights
From play-off finalists to mid-table mediocrity...
Over the past year, Spalding United have gone from the biggest game in their history to a much less dramatic run-in to the season.
In between, budget cuts to the Tulips’ squad ensured that there would be no repeat of a promotion push this term.
It was very positive last summer as the majority of the squad signed up again with a target of a top-two finish to go up automatically.
The big question, though, was how could Spalding find replacements for influential skipper Nathan Stainfield and prolific scorer Bradley Wells?
Maximum points from two games might have raised the expectation levels. But looking back now, it’s a classic case of not getting too carried away!
An early exit from the FA Cup was followed by two heavy defeats over the August bank holiday weekend.
The Tulips were knocked out in the opening stage of two more cup competitions – but they looked capable of at least challenging for the play-offs.
Then, in early November, came the sensible decision by chairman Andy Gay to reduce costs.
To their credit, many of the players opted to remain under reduced terms.
The target had switched, though, to ensuring a place at the same level in the new-look set-up next season.
Staying up was never really in doubt – despite a dreadful run of away defeats which was finally ended by five successive wins on the road!
Poor form was brought back home with no wins at the Sir Halley Stewart Field so far in 2018.
A change of formation at the end of 2017 made Spalding more difficult to break down.
Apart from a crazy night at Gresley when the Tulips struck eight times, they have struggled to create and convert chances.
Four away matches in a week produced 10 points which secured survival – but there was another key factor.
The full value of the new under-21 development squad was shown when eight of the youngsters earned first-team appearances throughout the campaign.
Spalding narrowly missed out on a place in the Lincolnshire FA Development League grand final.
But the future looks bright with plenty of talent and more plans to attract young players.
It will be a busy summer for Chris Rawlinson’s management team to make improvements ahead of another challenge.
SEASON IN STATS
P46 W14 D9 L23 F56 A69
P23 W7 D5 L11 F26 A32
P23 W7 D4 L12 F30 A37
Acar 42, Duggan 41, Humble 38 (+3 sub), Spafford 37 (+1), King 33 (+2), A Jackson 28, Marshall 28, Fixter 27 (+13), Davison 21, Hugo 20, Varley 20, Walker 19 (+3), Beeson 19 (+1), Lockie 13 (+25), J Jackson 12, Brooks 11 (+2), Whitehead 11, Lemon 10 (+3), McGhee 9 (+2), Miller 9, White 6 (+7), Tricks 6, Chipamaunga 4 (+5), Floyd 4 (+3), Harris 4 (+3), Maslen-Jones 4, Siddons 4, Reittie 3 (+4), Smith 3, Couzens 2 (+13), Neil 2 (+5), Maddison 2 (+4), Millington 2 (+4), Fletcher 2 (+3), Antkowiak 2, Higginson 1 (+3), Townrow 1, Havard (+5), Clarke (+4), Stainfield (+3).
King 13, Brooks 7, Davison 5, Lockie 5, J Jackson 4, Acar 3, Beeson 2, Marshall 2, Tricks 2, White 2, Whitehead 2, Fixter 1, Humble 1, Lemon 1, Miller 1, Millington 1, Reittie 1, Siddons 1, Varley 1, own goal 1.
HIGHEST ATTENDANCE (HOME)
303 v Wisbech Town – Emirates FA Cup preliminary round replay, August 22
LOWEST ATTENDANCE (HOME)
69 v Belper Town – Evo-Stik South, March 17
HIGHEST LEAGUE POSITION
3rd – August 15-26
LOWEST LEAGUE POSITION
15th – December 2-30 & February 17-24
Home – 3-0 v Sheffield, October 14. Away – 8-1 v Gresley, April 12.
Home – 3-0 v Cleethorpes Town, August 28. Away – 6-1 v Newcastle Town, August 26.
3 successive wins, 8 defeats, 4 unbeaten.